Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
ust one look at the stage made it clear that this was not going to be a typical night with Pokey LaFarge. There were only a few guitars to be seen, which meant that LaFarge was going it alone.
"I've been touring for years with a band," LaFarge told perhaps a few hundred people before he had even played a note. "I wanted to try something different. I'm going to do some experimenting tonight. I hope that's okay."
LaFarge was not joking either. Not so much that his musical potpourri of jazz, blues, country, waltzes and a bit more was all that different what LaFarge has typically been about.
So when he started with "Sweet Potato Blues," a fast-paced bluesy number, LaFarge didn't really make the blues sound so bad.
LaFarge, 37, is a bit of a musical old soul. Strong on guitar to carry the musical part, LaFarge sounds like he would have been completely comfortable playing in a '30s band with such songs as the jazzy/bluesy "I Wanna Be Your Man."
LaFarge wasn't joking when he said he was doing "something different." Yes, he served up a few new songs on his next release due in April, but he mentioned how he had two days off the road last week. So, instead of taking it easy, LaFarge ended up penning two new songs - the spare, mid-tempo "Orange Blossom" and the religious-themed "Long For Heaven I Seek" - both of which he played. Both hit the mark.
The latter was one of several songs LaFarge that dealt with religion. He also offered Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave" and Bob Dylan's "When Did You Leave Heaven?," a slower, more spare song.
LaFarge, who engaged with the crowd often in a jovial way, even threw in one presumably brand new song that didn't even have a title.
One of the standouts was the new "Love or Be Alone" where he turned it up vocally a few times. It all came to an end with perhaps his best-known song "La La" with LaFarge and the crowd singing with gusto.
LaFarge indicated the solo gig was not for the long run as he said he had a new band on his next release. But on this night, LaFarge didn't need any help. With a winning personality, good guitar playing and a dose of musical variety, in reality, not much had changed. LaFarge remains an entertaining musical force.